N68.7bn UBE grant unassessed by states

Ogunsakin Mustapha
6 Min Read
Femi Falana SAN

... as over 20m Nigerian children are out of school

Despite the fact that Nigeria has 20.2 million out of school children which is the highest in the world, there’s N68.7 billion Universal Basic Education(UBE) grant left unassessed by 29 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory.

This was disclosed by the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) in a letter dated December 11, 2023 and signed by its Director of Finance and Administration, Adamu Misau. UBEC’s statement is sequel to an inquiry made by human rights lawyer, Femi Falana SAN, using the Freedom of Information Act provision.

Falana who is also the Chairman of Alliance on Surviving Covid 19 and Beyond (ASCAB) in his letter dated November 24, 2023 stated:

“We have confirmed that unaccessed matching grant by State governments and the FCT Administration from 2005 – 2023 stands at N80,139,220,052.59 (Eighty Billion, One Hundred and Thirty Nine Million, Two Hundred and Twenty Thousand, Fifty Two Naira and Fifty Nine Kobo);

In view of the growing number of out-of-school children in Nigeria, we are compelled to request for information on the provision of counterpart  funding by the 36 State Governments and Federal Capital Territory Administration to access the outstanding matching grants;

As this request is made pursuant to the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2011, you are required to accede to our request within seven days of the receipt of this letter”.

UBEC’s response to Falana’s inquiry not only revealed the huge amount meant to the education of Nigerian children from primary school to Junior Secondary School (JSS), it also revealed that only seven out of 36 states have contributed their counterpart fund that will enable them to access the education fund. They are Osun, Niger, Taraba, Sokoto, Enugu, Jigawa, and Ondo States. The rest, including the FCT for years, had not contributed to the fund.

Falana has therefore called on the Federal Government to disburse the funds directly if the states refuse to perform their civic duty. Under the UBE Act, it is the responsibility of the government to give compulsory education to the children in primary school to JSS. It is a right that cannot be refused. The Act also makes it a crime punishable for any parent who refuses to release their children for education.

In a statement dated December 28, 2023, Falana said:

“In early 2023, the United Nations Children Emergency Fund estimated the total number of out-of-school children in Nigeria to be 20.2 million.The report disclosed that one in three children in Nigeria is out of school, totalling 10.2 million at the primary level, and 8.1 million at the junior secondary school level. It said one in every five out-of-school children in the world is in Nigeria. Over 60 per cent of the illiterate are in the North. The report has confirmed that Nigeria has the highest number of out-of-school children in the world;

 Disturbed by the figure of out-of-school children, we requested the Universal Basic Education Commission to furnish us with information on access to UBEC fund by the 36 state governments and the Federal Capital Territory In its prompt reply to our letter, the UBEC disclosed that the total unaccessed matching grant from all states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory stood at N68, 737, 873, 073. 52 as of 11th December 2023. The letter of the UBEC dated 11th December 2023 is hereby attached;

In view of the fact that state governments have failed to comply with section 3 of the Education Reforms Act which mandates them to contribute half (50%) of the total cost of projects to be executed in the State as its own commitment in the execution of the projects, we are compelled to call on the UBEC to disburse the fund directly;

This call is in line with the combined effect of sections 12 and 17 which have saddled the Commission with the responsibility to ensure effective implementation, evaluation and monitoring of the Universal Basic Education programme of the Federal Government and help teachers, schools managers and other stakeholders in Basic and Secondary Education institutions in Nigeria to identify areas of deficiencies in achieving curriculum goals and help to remedy these deficiencies;

As a matter of urgency, we call on the Federal Government, State Governments, and the 774 Local Governments to adopt remedial measures to ensure the immediate registration of the 20.2 million out-of-school children in schools. If the said sum of N68 billion  unmatched grant is not accessed by the 36 state governments and the Federal Capital Territory before January 15, 2024, we shall seek an order of mandamus to compel them to do so forthwith”, he concluded.

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